Category Archives: The Bush Administration

Iraq: 10 Years After Invasion | Costs of War

Iraq: 10 Years After Invasion | Costs of War.

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Unconditional, unrequited love? | By Kevin Alexander Gray

(Note: edited version, “Obama and Black America: Who Has Whose Back?”’ published in August 2011 edition of The Progressive | updated data –WashPost/ABC News Poll: Big Drop In Black Support For President Obama )

“I’ve said to you on many occasions that each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality. We’re split up and divided against ourselves. And there is something of a civil war going on within all of our lives. There is a recalcitrant South of our soul revolting against the North of our soul.”

—Martin Luther King, “Loving Your Enemies,” November 17, 1957

I ran into Congressman Jim Clyburn at Brookland Baptist Church, here in Columbia, during the 2010 midterm election season while campaigning with South Carolina Green Party senate candidate Tom Clements. As we all exchanged pleasantries, I jokingly mentioned to Jim that I had gotten his campaign mail with the picture of him and President Barack Obama on it. He seemed genuinely pleased, so much so that he walked me over to check out the special poster he had at his campaign material table. The poster was also of Clyburn with the commander-in-chief. Clyburn appears to be making a point in the President’s ear. Obama looks and leans as though he’s listening. The U.S. flag is in the background. At the bottom of the poster read the caption: “JIM HAS THE PRESIDENT’S EAR, AND WE MUST HAVE THEIR BACKS!!!”

Clyburn didn’t really need Obama’s help in getting reelected in his safe district, which is 57 percent African American. And he’s never had any serious opposition to his seat. But it would have taken some help from Obama for him to keep his spot as the second-ranking Democrat in the House after the drubbing their party took in the midterm elections. That help was not forthcoming. When the dust settled, Clyburn wasn’t even offered the minority whip job, which went to Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Clyburn was given the new title of assistant Democratic leader. Clyburn has fewer staff than before, he is no longer involved in vote-counting, nor is he a key party messenger. Clyburn’s demotion has not sat well with the Congressional Black Caucus, which he used to chair. But it typifies Obama’s indifference to African Americans across the board.

Last December, when he was polling in the mid-nineties among blacks, during a White House press conference a black reporter asked Obama about grumblings among the black leadership. He replied: “I think if you look at the polling, in terms of the attitudes of the African-American community, there’s overwhelming support for what we’ve tried to do.”

Yet even as he boasted, that same month the black unemployment rose from 15.7 percent to 16 percent, almost double the Dec. 9% national rate (Aug 2011- 9.1%). Black male unemployment rose from 16.3 percent to 16.7 percent as 1.3 million black men were out of work. For black women it jumped from 12.7 percent to 13.1, or roughly 1.2 million unemployed black women. And the unemployment rate for black teens stood at a staggering 46.5 percent (by contrast, the rate for white teenagers was 23.6 percent).

When Obama entered office, the black unemployment rate was 12.6 percent. But rising unemployment still didn’t dampen black optimism going into his second year. According to a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University poll conducted Jan. 27-Feb. 9 of this year, 85 percent of blacks said they were optimistic about the future course of the economy while 72 percent of white held that view. Eighty-four percent of blacks felt hopeful about their personal financial situation, compared with 73 percent of whites.

Obama and Black AmericaObama is right that the African American community gives him overwhelming support, but it’s not as overwhelming as it used to be. In the most recent polls blacks see “the economy” or unemployment as the nation’s top problem with one in seven or 2.9 million African Americans out of work — the highest number in nearly a quarter century. And some economists argue that 16%+ rate isn’t the “real” or accurate rate. They say that if one takes into account those people who want work and cannot get it and have stopped looking, those not counted such as the 900,000 incarcerated black men and women, and those recently released from the military– the “real” underemployment rate may be 25% or higher.

Back in 2008, nearly all (95 percent) black voters cast their ballot for Obama. Presently, they give him approval ratings just above 80 percent although there are polls with higher numbers.

Blacks still seem to have Obama’s back, but does he have theirs? Continue reading

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Famous South Carolinians | Harvey Leroy “Lee” Atwater | By Kevin Alexander Gray

Aiken – Political consultant and strategist to the Republican Party 

 (February 27, 1951March 29, 1991)

Atwater was born in Atlanta, Georgia, but grew up in Aiken, South Carolina, and graduated from Newberry College, a small private Lutheran institution in Newberry. He married and was father of three daughters.

Atwater was an advisor of  Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. He was also a political mentor and close friend of Republican strategist Karl Rove. Atwater invented or improved upon many of the techniques of modern electoral politics; including promulgating unflattering rumors and attempting to drive up opponents’ “negative” poll numbers as techniques. His foes have characterized him as the “happy hatchet man” and “the Darth Vader of the Republican party.”

112th Governor of South Carolina from 1987 to 1995 | Republican

Atwater rose during the 1970’s and the 1980 election in the South Carolina Republican party, working on the campaigns of Governor Carroll Campbell and Senator Strom Thurmond. During his years in South Carolina, Atwater became well known for running hard edged campaigns based on emotional “wedge issues.”

US Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC)

Atwater’s aggressive tactics were first demonstrated during the 1980 congressional campaigns. He was a campaign consultant to Republican incumbent Floyd Spence in his campaign for Congress against Democratic nominee Tom Turnipseed. Atwater’s tactics in that campaign included push polling in the form of fake surveys by “independent pollsters” to “inform” white suburbanites that Turnipseed was allegedly a member of the NAACP. Atwater also highlighted that Turnipseed had been “hooked up to jumper cables” as a teen undergoing electroshock therapy for depression.

Tom Turnipseed

After the 1980 election Atwater went to Washington and became an aide in the Ronald Reagan administration, working under political director Ed Rollins. During his years in Washington Atwater became aligned with Vice President Bush, who chose Atwater to run his 1988 presidential campaign.

 

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Lenny Kravitz, Mos Def and More Jam for Gulf Aid

“It Ain’t My Fault”

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“SMELLS LIKE SULFUR HERE” | Edited & arranged by John Sinclair

In September 2006,

the President of Venezuela ,

Hugo Chavez,

addressed the United Nations

with a speech titled Rise Up Against the Empire:

“The hegemonic pretensions

of the American empire,” he said,

“are placing at risk

the very survival

of the human species. T he devil

is right at home. T he devil,

the devil himself,

is right in the house. And the devil

came here yesterday. Yesterday

the devil came here.

Right here. [crosses himself]

And it smells

of sulfur

still today. Yesterday,

ladies & gentlemen,

from this rostrum,

the president of the United States ,

the gentleman

to whom I refer

as the devil,

came here,

talking as if he owned the world.

Truly. As the owner

of the world. Full

of this imperial hypocrisy

from the need they have

to control everything.

What type of democracy

do you impose

with marines & bombs? T he imperialists

see extremists everywhere. It’s not

that we are extremists. It’s that the world

is waking up. It’s waking

up all over. And people

are standing up.

You can call us extremists,

but we are rising up

against the empire, against the model

of domination. T hey kidnapped me

& they were going to kill me,

but I think God reached down

& our people came out

into the streets

& the army was too,

& so I’m here today.

Over & above all of this,

I think there are reasons

to be optimistic, because

over & above the wars

& the bombs

& the aggression

& the “preventive war”

& the destruction

of entire peoples, one can see

that a new era

is dawning.

As Silvio Rodriguez says,

the era

is giving birth

to a heart.

There are alternative ways of thinking.

There are young people

who think differently. It was shown

that the end of history

was a totally false assumption.

What we now have to do

is define the future

of the world. Dawn

is breaking out all over. You can see it

in Africa

& Europe

& Latin America

& Oceana. I want

to emphasize

that optimistic vision.

We have to strengthen ourselves,

our will

to do battle,

our awareness. We have to build

a new & better world.

We want ideas

to save our planet,

to save the planet

from the imperialist threat. And hopefully

in this very century,

in not too long a time,

we will see this,

we will see this new era,

& for our children

& our grandchildren

a world of peace. It smells

of sulfur here,

but God is with us

& I embrace you all. May God

bless us all. Good day to you.”

 

Edited & arranged by John Sinclair

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The Novocaine Effect | Obama and Black America | By Kevin Alexander Gray

“It’s like when you go to the dentist, and the man’s going to take your tooth. You’re going to fight him when he starts pulling. So he squirts some stuff in your jaw called novocaine, to make you think they’re not doing anything to you. So you sit there and ’cause you’ve got all of that novocaine in your jaw, you suffer peacefully. Blood running all down your jaw, and you don’t know what’s happening. ’Cause someone has taught you to suffer – peacefully.”

Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), Message to the Grassroots (1964).

There’s a picture of Barack Obama next to one of Jesus in the front window of the small, black art gallery that I drive past almost every­day. And I still see someone wearing an Obama t-shirt maybe once a week, but sometimes it’s the same guy. If you’re looking, you can a find a variety of shirts in just about every corner store where I live. They’re on the wall, next to the Bob Marley, Tupac, Biggie Smalls and Al Pacino “Scarface” t-shirts. You can get an Obama hat and a presidential calendar there too. There are still a few Obama yard signs in the neighborhood, usually in a window. A few people still have an Obama bumper sticker on their cars. Not as many as some might think. Certainly not as many as the number of Confederate flags on vehicles in this part of the country.

Racial solidarity is the mood that helped get Obama into the White House. The traditional source of power and sur­vival among blacks, it is also the novo­caine of the moment, a numbing agent as people suffer through what, despite the more hopeful official forecasts, feels like a full-blown depression where I live. The pride is real, but so is the pain, and it’s coming in sharp stabs despite the shot. The novocaine is still working, just not so well, and the result is a discomfiting confusion.

In late September I spoke at a ‘‘Black Male Summit” about 80 miles north­west of Columbia in Rock Hill, South Carolina, which is famous in civil rights’ lore as the first stop in the Deep South for the Freedom Riders testing the 1960 Supreme Court decision outlawing ra­cial segregation in all interstate public facilities. Rock Hill is where Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activist John Lewis and another man stepped off the bus and were beaten by a white mob. The town is mentioned in Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land” – only the “poor boy” on the Greyhound is lucky as his bus “bypassed Rock Hill” in the song. Things are still tough in the town just south of Charlotte. Since February of 2008 the number of jobs here has fallen by 15 per cent, and the average salary for people lucky enough to be employed is about $28,000. In June of this year, Yvette Williams, a 15 year-old black girl, was shot and killed by two police officers after she robbed a grocery store. The two of­ficers fired on Williams five times after she pointed a gun at them and refused to drop it, according to Rock Hill Police Chief John Gregory. He said he felt the police response was justified. A witness who lives across the street from where the shooting happened, told the local paper she was in bed when she heard shots and got up, looked out her window and saw the girl fall to the ground. She said she then saw an officer shoot again.

The theme I was asked to speak on in Rock Hill was “How do we restore dignity back to black communities?” My initial response was I didn’t know we’d lost it. But I knew the idea was a nod to Obama’s tough-love trick bag. “Post-racialism” is nonsense, but as an ideological concept it’s real, with real political consequences. On the right, it is license for white blow­hards to go on any racist tirade they like so long as they don’t actually broadcast the word “nigger.” In the black communi­ty it’s alive wherever blacks argue among themselves as to whether they are indi­vidually or collectively responsible for the conditions they face, or if they’re as criminal or immoral or lazy or violent or promiscuous or stupid as racists believe them to be. Sherman Porterfield, one of the organizers of the event, was quoted in the local paper, “Obama talked about it,” this claimed loss of dignity; “he has challenged us. The question now is, are we up to the challenge? Our young peo­ple are dropping out of school in record numbers, and it’s our fault. Nobody is shooting water hoses at us anymore. But we are allowing our young brothers to shoot each other. And that is not accept­able.” Continue reading

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March for Jobs at the G20! | Bail Out the People Movement

march4jobsWhy are we demanding jobs or income at the G-20 Economic Crisis Meeting in Pittsburgh in September?

30 million people in the U.S. are unemployed or underemployed – We say NO!

 

 

What is the G-20?

It’s a group of Treasury officials and central bankers from 20 countries, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Its goal is to protect bank profits, whatever it costs the people of the world.

The U.S. delegation is led by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve System (The Fed). They organized a bailout of the banks, insurance companies and stock brokerages that totals $12.6 trillion–or $42,105 for every adult and child in the U.S.

How much is a trillion dollars? It is 1,000 billion. And a billion is 1,000 million.

The Federal Reserve controls this money, yet most people have never heard of it. The Fed has seven governors, all bankers, appointed by the U.S. President for 14-year terms. George W. Bush appointed Bernanke Chairman of his Council of Economic Advisors and then head of the Fed. The Fed operates in secrecy, even from Congress, yet makes decisions affecting whether we work, have homes, or eat.

Geithner, the former chief of the NY Federal Reserve Bank, worked with the Fed under the Bush administration to devise the bank bailout. He invented the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) and eight other programs to funnel taxpayer money into the banks. His top aide is from Goldman Sachs Bank. He changed bank regulations to prohibit congressional audits of the Federal Reserve.

Who is representing the people at the G20 conference? No one!

Profit recovery for banks –
Jobless ‘recovery’ for workers
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